Tagged with postaday

Pop’s Chocolate Chip Cookies with Grapefruit & Anise


Cookies 2Father’s Day.  It’s coming.  Except in my case, I call it Pop’s Day, cuz that’s what I call my dad.  I can’t really send him flowers or a little piece of jewelry like I can my mother on her special day.  He no longer needs ties and has more tools,  shirts and logo baseball hats than he can ever use.  So what do I send my old man to let him know how special he is?  Bake him a batch of (healthy) cookies that host his favorite flavors.

Pop’s Chocolate Chip Cookies with Grapefruit & Anise
Makes ~16

2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. powdered stevia
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. anise seeds, crushed with a mortar & pestle or processed in a spice grinder
3 tbsp. vegan butter
2 tbsp. prune puree
1/4 cup maple sugar
1 tbsp. flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp. water (whisk together and let sit for a minute or two)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. grapefruit zest
1/2 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat oven to 375F.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, stevia, salt and anise seeds.  In a large bowl, cream the butter, prune puree and maple sugar until smooth.  Add the flaxseed meal mixture, vanilla extract and zest and mix well.

Mix the dry ingredients in with the wet ingredients and stir in the chocolate chips.  Drop dough by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets.  I wet the bottom of a glass to gently flatten the cookies.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating pans halfway through.  Let cool for a few minutes on the baking pans before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Anise Seeds

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A Midwife’s Tale & The Concept of “Me Time”

A Midwife's Tale CollageReading is at its best when it is not only entertaining, but enlightening, instructional and thought-provoking.  When it takes one outside of one’s self and one’s small circle of thinking.  I just finished a book like that, A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, by Laural Thatcher Ulrich.  The book uses excerpts from Martha Ballard’s diary, fills out her story with rich detail culled from meticulous research and adds in information about the politics, social norms and mores of the time period in which she kept her diary (1785-1812 – what a time period in which to live, no?).

Martha Ballard was a wife and mother, but also a very successful midwife in a small Maine town.  Her diary is terse, with that interesting and moving target of spelling so peculiar to that time period and is a record book that keeps track of the births and deaths to which she’s attended, epidemics that swept through her town as well as notes on her daily activities as wife and mother.  She keeps track of when she was paid and how much and tallies the number of babies she helped bring into the world.  She was a woman who, to use 21st Century terminology, had it all.  She literally brought home the bacon.

It’s exhausting just reading about her days.  Her diary is filled with activities: tending to sheep, pigs and turkeys;  making candles and spinning wool and sewing clothes; brewing beer and making “flower” (flour) bread; cleaning her pantry, hauling wood, weeding, planting and harvesting her productive garden; raising her children and tending grandchildren and seeing that her husband had what he needed to go off on his long surveying trips.  She regularly bartered for both services and XXX, sold seeds, shared her oven and loom with neighbors and acted as mistress to a myriad of young, female apprentices.  She did all of these things along with her duties as midwife.  Called at all hours of the day and night and in good weather and bad she crossed frozen rivers, climbed steep hills, fell off of horses and got stuck in mud – but she reached her patients and tended to them with skill, confidence and tender care.  Except for the few moments when she could scribble brief notes in her diary, Martha had no Me Time.  Undoubtedly the concept of Me Time would have puzzled her.  It probably would have seemed to her the ultimate of selfishness and pride.  Martha’s whole existence was about being in service to others.  To bring comfort and healing and to raise the next generation.

Which makes those occasions when I slip into self-pity at not having enough time to read, write, workout, practice yoga, putter in the kitchen or just gaze vacantly into space all the more ridiculous and embarrassing.  Yes, I cook and clean and tend (barely) to a garden and have 10,000 little tasks that need attention every day – but – is not most of my time really Me Time?  Hasn’t life become so convenient that all of the things I need to do can be done quickly and efficiently?  In addition to deciding what goes on our plates three times each day, do I have to worry about typhoid fever, measles and intestinal worms?  About not having enough food because the year’s harvest was poor?  About a lack of fuel to warm my home or cook my meal?  Or how about having to make my own clothes – from animal/plant to weaving the fabric?  Looking at it that way, I’m lousy with Me Time.

Martha’s diary makes me grateful for many things.  I’m grateful that I was not born in the 18th Century, for one.  I’m grateful for antibiotics and vaccines; bandages that stay on when wet, sutures that dissolve and for doctors who no longer bleed our bodies when our bodies can least afford to be bled.  I’m grateful for 24-hour grocery stores, telephones and daily showers; fresh and abundant food, lights by which to read at night; furnaces and A/Cs, a house absent of fleas; indoor toilets and a stove I don’t need to stoke each morning.  What would Martha think of all of these riches?  Unnecessary luxuries, probably.

I now try to keep Martha in mind as I go about my day.  When I find myself slipping into self-pity, I think about her being woken at 2 in the morning in deepest, coldest winter to attend to a birth, how tired and sore she must’ve been after her full days or about how time-consuming the preparation of one meal for houseful of people had to be.  A little mental slap in the face.  A reminder about how good I have it, how easy my life really is.

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Smoky Pesto Cashew Cheez

Cheez SandwichA mere few weeks ago I was all hot for coconut butters.  Now I’m onto nut cheez.  The original recipe for this came from The Complete Guide to Vegan Substitutions and called for roasted red peppers and jalapenos.  I made a batch nearly straight-up (reduced the olive oil) true to the recipe and was just blown away by the flavor.  (When it’s still hot, it smells uncannily like diary cheese.)  It’s by far the best-tasting nut cheez I’ve ever made.  I’ve got a thing or two against commercial vegan cheezes but still felt like I was missing out, so this recipe is a great addition to my list of vegan staple items.  Slap a slice or two of this stuff between some red chile tortillas, grill – and you will be a very happy camper indeed.

The second time I made it, I thought pesto would be an ideal “add-in” instead of the jalapenos and red peppers.  It makes for a beautiful little loaf of healthy, reduced fat vegan cheez.  Totally worthy atop homemade crackers or melted between crunchy-soft bread.  Making cheez at home is not a cheap option – a 1 oz. bag of agar flakes is about $6.99 and cashews are pricey as well, but a little of this cheez goes a long way and last time I looked, my homemade stuff didn’t have any ingredients I couldn’t pronounce (or tons of oil, either).

Smoky Pesto Cashew Cheez
One big ol’ loaf or 2 smaller rounds

1 oz. agar flakes or powder
3 cups water
2 cups raw cashews, ground into a fine powder
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4-1/2 tsp. Liquid Smoke
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. onion flakes or powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
~1 cup quick, oil-free pesto (recipe follows)

Pesto Cashew Cheez on Board


Quick Oil-free Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
dash ground black pepper

Make the pesto:
In a food processor, pulse the basil, garlic and pepper until finely chopped.  Remove from processor and set aside.

Make the cheez:
Clean and dry the bowl of the food processor and grind the cashews. Either lightly oil a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan or use medium-sized ramekins to get round cheezes.  One loaf pan is perfect for this recipe, but if you go smaller, you will need more than one pan or dish.

In a medium-sized sauce pan, bring the 3 cups of water and agar flakes to a boil and keep the mixture at a nice, rolling boil for 5 minutes, whisking often.  Meanwhile, add the remaining cheez ingredients – but not the pesto or the water/agar – to the food processor.  Process until everything is combined and you have a thick paste.  When the agar mixture has boiled for 5 minutes, remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the cashew mixture.  It will start off rather chunky, but will melt into the agar.  Once it’s all whisked and smooth, quickly dump in the pesto and stir only one or two times.  You don’t want to fully incorporate the pesto – you’re looking for streaks and lumps.

Quickly pour the cheez into the prepared pan(s) or dish(es).  Pop into the ‘frige and allow to firm up.  Once the cheez is firm, you can remove it from the pan(s) by running a knife around the edges.  Serve sliced, as is, or use in quesadillas or grilled sandwiches.

Cheez on Board

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Miso-Ginger Soup with Lettuce Veggie Cups & Two Dipping Sauces

Miso-Ginger Soup

Lettuce CupsThe first time I made this simple miso soup, I was home alone and suffering from a bad cold.  All I wanted was soup (a little sympathy wouldn’t have hurt, either), but I didn’t have the desire or energy to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  Miso was the perfect solution.  Quick, easy, comforting and healthful to boot.  You can make it as fancy or as simple as you like.

The veggie wraps come nearly unchanged from a terrific recipe in Moosewood Restaurant New Classics.  The biggest revision I made was to ditch the egg roll wrappers (I’ve never been able to successfully wrestle those rascals, anyway, and the ones available to me aren’t vegan) in favor of crisp lettuce.  I also omitted the cooking oil.  The sauces are a result of my tinkering with several different recipes.

If you participated in the recent Virtual Vegan Potluck, wanted to participate or if you’d just like to keep current on the what’s happening, please Like our new Facebook page dedicated to the event.  We’ve posted all of the links to the wonderful recipes from everyone who did participate – please visit and check it out!  You can also keep in touch via the Potluck Twitter handle, @veganpotluck.  Thank you!

Miso-Ginger Soup
Serves 4-6

2″ piece of ginger, peeled and microplaned (or finely minced)
6 cups water
Red Miso, White Miso Paste3-4″ piece kombu
4 tbsp. white miso
3 tbsp. red miso
1 tsp. tamari or soy sauce
2 scallions, chopped + additional for garnish
fresh cilantro, chopped

Other add-ins, if desired:
cubed silken tofu
thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
grated carrots
buckwheat noodles

Put 6 cups water in a large saucepan.  Add the kombu and the microplaned ginger.  Gently heat to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.  Remove kombu.  If using add-ins, put them into the soup now and simmer for a few minutes, just to slightly soften the vegetables. (I cook the buckwheat noodles separately and just stir them into the soup at the end.)

Whisk in the miso and the tamari.  Do not let the soup boil.  Cook for about 30 seconds.

Divide soup among 4 or 6 bowls and garnish with additional scallions and cilantro, if desired.

Lettuce Cup in Hand

Lettuce Veggie Wraps
Serves 6 or more

2 oz. bean thread noodles
vegetable broth for cooking
2 cups green cabbage, grated
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced or microplaned
1 cup carrots, peeled and grated
1 cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

Medium-size head red lettuce or your favorite tasty green

Soak the bean thread noodles in warm water until softened, about 15 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable broth and saute the cabbage for about 5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms, garlic and ginger and continue to saute for another 4 minutes.  The mushrooms should be soft.  Add the carrots and bell pepper and cook an additional 5 minutes or until carrots and pepper are hot, but still have a nice bite.  Remove from the heat.

Drain the bean thread noodles and cut into 4″ lengths with scissors.  Add them to the vegetables along with the scallions, soy sauce, vinegar, basil and cilantro.  Stir to combine.

To serve, place a generous spoonful of the bean thread mixture onto lettuce leaves.  Dip.  Consume.

Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin Sauce

2 tbsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos
2 tbsp. tamari
1 tbsp. vegetable broth
1 1/2 tbsp. black bean garlic sauce
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. molasses
1 small clove garlic, microplaned or finely minced
1/4 tsp. chile garlic paste
dash ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and dip to your heart’s content.

Chile Garlic SauceChile-Garlic Sauce

1 tbsp. tamari
1 tbsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos (or additional tamari/soy sauce)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. white vinegar
3 tbsp. vegetable broth
pinch crystallized stevia or maple sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced or microplaned
2-3 scallions, sliced

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and let sit for about 30 minutes.

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Bread To Convalesce By: Chocolate-Cinnamon Babka

Cut Loaf

2 SlicesWhen a neighbor of ours went in for some major foot surgery – surgery that would leave him house-bound for quite a while – Kel and I thought it would be nice to drop off something comforting to help with his convalescence.  I occasionally send a fresh loaf of whole grain bread this neighbor’s way – the man appreciates a good loaf of bread – but this time I wanted something a little extra special to help with the healing process.

I’m a firm believer in the healing powers of chocolate, the comforting qualities of the smell of cinnamon and the health benefits of fresh- and home-baked bread.  Together those qualities must offer unbeatable rehabilitative properties, right?.  And since I was going to the effort anyway, I doubled the recipe so that Kel and I could comfort ourselves, too.  Thank goodness neither one of us required surgery.

Chocolate-Cinnamon Babka
Makes 2 loaves

1 tsp. agave nectar
2 packages dry yeast
1 1/2 cups soy or almond milk, warmed
6 tbsp. maple sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. egg replacer + 3 tbsp. water (whisk together until frothy, then set aside)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour
3 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
8 tbsp. vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

1/2 cup maple sugar
1 tsp. powdered stevia
6 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz. semi-sweet vegan chocolate, finely chopped (chocolate chips work, too)

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and agave in the warm soy milk and let sit for about 5 minutes.  Stir in the maple sugar, vanilla extract, salt and egg replacer mixture.  Add the bread flour  and about 2 cups of the whole wheat flour and stir until well-blended.  Add the butter and stir again.  You’ll have a very sticky dough.

Now’s the time to knead the dough.  Lightly flour the counter and knead, adding whole wheat flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking too badly to your hands.  You should have a soft, slightly sticky dough by the time you’re done (8-10 minutes).  Place dough in a large bowl that’s been lightly sprayed with oil.  Cover and let rise for an hour and a half, or until doubled in size.  Punch dough down and let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl.  Line the bottom of two 9″x5″ loaf pans with parchment and lightly spritz the sides of the pan with cooking oil.

Divide the dough in two and starting with one piece (keep the other piece covered), roll it out to a 16″ square.  Sprinkle filling over the dough, leaving a 1/4″ border.  Roll up the dough just as you would for cinnamon rolls.  Pinch the ends to seal.  Holding the roll by the ends, gently twist the dough as if wringing out a towel.  Fit the dough into the pan.  I formed mine into a u-shape to get it into the pan.  It looks funky, but comes out beautifully as it rises and bakes.  Repeat with the second piece of dough.

Cover both pans with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rise for about 45 minutes.  Preheat your oven to 350F.

Bake the loaves for about 40 minutes or until nicely browned.  The bottom should sound hollow when tapped.  Cool the loaves in the pans for about 10 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely on wire racks.

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How The Garden Grows

Green Tomato

Green tomatoes.

It’s really full-on summer here – though the calendar disagrees with me – in Oklahoma and besides having tomatoes, peppers and basil in the greenhouse, Kel has things humming along in the outside garden as well.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, he’s really been a one man show this year as far as the gardening goes.  I putter out to help here and there – and to help myself with whatever is ripe – but he’s done 99% of the work, and he’s done beautifully.

The garden space has slowly expanded since we moved here in 2007.  It took us a full year to realize that we cannot plant produce straight in the ground.  The soil just isn’t that good, but more than that, the Bermuda grass ate our lunch, so to speak.  It creeps, crawls and invades anything that it can.  So, we covered the garden plot with black plastic and let it cook for nearly a full year.  And we raised the beds to boot.  This year we’ve added a couple of new spots that will be ready next year, after the black plastic, the sun and the worms do their work.  Here’s how things look:

Full Garden

The full garden with areas under black plastic.

Basil Plants

Beautiful basil. Our honeybees will go crazy when these are in full bloom.

Strawberry Plant

A strawberry plant, new this year.

Grape Vine

So many grapes this year!

Green Peppers

Bell peppers from the greenhouse.

Potato Plant

Potato plants; imagine all of those happy, little spuds underground!

Straw Bale

Close-up of a straw bale. My artist’s eye loved the tangles of dry grass.

Blueberry Plant

Young blueberry plant, covered in unripe berries.

Row of Onions

Sturdy row of onions.


One of my contributions: lavender.

Red Hot Pokers

Red Hot Poker, for the hummingbirds.

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Tahini-Orange-Date Crumble Cookies

Cookies in Green Cup

I was immediately intrigued by a recipe for Orange Blossom Tahini Cookies at Savory Simple.  Beautiful little cookies – but what was hooked me was the use of tahini.  I’d only ever used it for savory dishes.  I tucked the recipe away and well, kind of forgot about it until I made my date crumble mistake.  A tahini-based cookie sounded like the perfect way to use some of that sweet, crunchy (sesame-seeded) mixture.  I veganized the cookie recipe, swapped white flour for whole wheat, added almond flour and reduced the amount of sugar and fat – and I added a good handful of date crumble.  These cookies have the most tender crumb and they bake up beautifully.  The aroma when they bake – out of sight.

Many thanks to Everyday Vegan Girl for passing along the Versatile Blogger Award and to VegHotPot and Nina at Tabkhet el Yom (What’s for lunch?) for bestowing the One Lovely Blog award to this here blog.  I enjoy and admire all of these blogs, so it’s a huge honor.  Thank you, ladies!  Oh and hey – check out the Creative Kitchen Challenge at Things My Belly Likes.  I’m probably going to play along with this one.

Tahini-Orange-Date Crumble Cookies
Makes 16

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup almond meal (a good way to use the almond pulp from making almond milk; just make sure it’s dry and finely ground)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. powdered stevia
1/4 cup vegan butter
1/4 cup maple sugar (or omit stevia and use 1/2 cup sugar)
1/2 tbsp. maple syrup
4 oz. prune puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. orange extract
1 1/4 cups Date, Cherry, Walnut & Ginger Crumble
Demerara sugar for sprinkling

In a small bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt and stevia.

By hand or in a stand mixer, cream the butter and maple sugar.  Add the maple syrup, prune puree and extracts.  Process until well-mixed.  Carefully add the flour mixture and just as the dough is coming together, pour in the crumble.  Process just enough so that the crumble is thoroughly incorporated.  The mixture should be covered and chilled for several hours.

Preheat oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.   Scoop up generous tablespoon-sized balls of dough and roll them quickly.  When all of the balls have been formed, wet the bottom of a glass and gently press down the cookies.  Sprinkle with Demerara sugar.

Bake for about 15 minutes, switching pans halfway through.  Allow to cool for a few minutes on the pans, then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Cookie Cut in Half

Stack of Cookies

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Chocolate-Cherry-Banana (Green) Smoothie

SmoothiesA few days ago while doing a sort-of, kind-of inventory of my canned goods, I noticed four cans of tart cherries staring back at me.  Wow.  When did I buy those??  I grabbed one and checked the date: getting close to expiration time.  I’ve been on a mission to use those cans before the clock strikes midnight on them (what exactly happens on the expiration date anyway?  Do they self-destruct?  Instantly acquire botulism?)  My first recipe was a vegan version of Cauldron and Cupcakes’ Cherry Ripe Slice (I love the name of this recipe – I feel like I could change the words around and it would still make sense).  I must admit that my first go-round on these didn’t come out quite as expected.  Perfectly edible, but not ready for prime time.  I encourage you to check out Nicole’s decadent version – it looks and sounds wonderful.  (In the meantime, I’ll enjoy my smoothie variation of her dessert.  See the recipe below the Chocolate-Cherry-Banana Smoothie recipe.)

This, my second recipe using a can of cherries came out much better.  Perhaps because there was no measuring, substituting and baking.  Daily dose of greens included at no extra charge.

For those Virtual Vegan Potluckers out there (and anyone else who is interested), I created a Facebook page just for the event.  (Thanks, Lorna, for the idea!)  It’s a little rough around the edges, but I’m working on it!  Please check it out and give it a Like.  I’ll be slowly sharing the links to everyone’s VVP posts.  Click here to be whisked away to the Virtual Vegan Potluck page.  Also, the VVP Pinterest board is now complete!  And…the VVP now has its own Twitter handle: @veganpotluck.

Chocolate-Cherry-Banana (Green) Smoothie
Serves 2

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 very ripe bananas, sliced (frozen would be nice)
2 tbsp. powdered unsweetened cocoa
natural sweetener to taste (I used crystallized stevia)
1 15 oz. can pitted, tart cherries (packed in water, not syrup), drained well and frozen (or use 2 cups bagged frozen cherries)
A big handful of baby spinach
cacao nibs, optional

Put everything (except the cacao nibs) in a blender or Vitamix in the order shown and blend until smooth!  Divide between two glasses and sprinkle with cacao nibs.

Smoothies from the Top

Cherry Ripe Slice Smoothie
Serves 2

1- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp. coconut or vanilla extract
2 very ripe bananas, sliced, fresh or frozen
2 tbsp. powdered unsweetened cocoa
natural sweetener to taste (I used crystallized stevia)
1 15 oz. can pitted, tart cherries (packed in water, not syrup), drained well and frozen (or use 2 cups bagged frozen cherries)
A big handful of baby spinach
cacao nibs, optional
toasted unsweetened coconut flakes, optional

Put everything (except the cacao nibs and toasted coconut flakes) in a blender or Vitamix in the order shown and blend until smooth!  (If using both frozen bananas and cherries, you will need more liquid to get and keep the mixture moving.)  Divide between two glasses and sprinkle with cacao nibs and toasted coconut flakes.

Chocolate Cherry Coconut Smoothie

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Wild Rice Salad with Sweet Potato, Orange, Cherries & Toasted Pecans

Wild Rice SaladI just finished reading The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America, by Michael Ruhlman and while it was interesting, it made me realize a couple of things.  One is, I’m glad that I’m not a chef.  It’s a hard life.  I can barely take the stress of preparing three meals a day for two people, let alone service for tens or even hundreds.  The second thing is, I could never go to the Culinary Institute of America.  It should be called The Carcass Institute of America (though the book covers a period back in the 1990s, so things may have changed there).  There is brief mention in the book of a class (one class mind you, not a full course) on vegetarianism, and it takes place in a basement room towards the end of one’s education at the Institute.  Sounds pretty half-arsed and halfhearted to me.

However, I did glean something delicious from the book.  The author describes a menu at one of the restaurants (where students do the cooking as part of their education) which included a wild rice salad with toasted pecan dressing.  Sounded like a nice title for a recipe.  I put down the book and jotted down some ideas.  The result is this no-oil, animal-free salad.  No butchering required.

Wild Rice Salad with Sweet Potato, Cherries & Toasted Pecans
Serves 4

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. orange juice
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. brown rice miso
black pepper, to taste

1 medium-sized sweet potato, roasted, cooled, peeled and cubed
1 cup wild rice and brown rice blend, cooked and cooled slightly
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup dried tart cherries, chopped
dash salt & ground black pepper
dash of poultry seasoning
zest of 1/2 an orange
1/2 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped

In a large bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.

Add the salad ingredients and gently toss to combine.  Let salad sit for a little while for flavors to meld – then serve at room temperature on a bed of fresh, crisp greens – sprinkled with additional toasted pecans, if desired.

Dry Wild Rice

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I Meant To Do That: Date, Cherry, Walnut & Ginger Crumble

Date Cherry Ginger Crumble on PlateWith great enthusiasm I set out one morning to make Build-Your-Own-Energy-Bars, courtesy of Amber Shea Crawley and her cookbook, Practically Raw.  I knew I could bang out a batch of bars, pop them in the freezer and have them ready for our daily 3 pm snack.  Easy.  I gathered the ingredients and pulled out the food processor and away I went.  But something went wrong.  The mixture was not really a mixture.  There was no way it was going to stick together to create bars.  I stared into the processor as if the answer were in the pile of pretty crumbs.  I looked around the kitchen.  What could I do to rescue this recipe?  I didn’t want to add maple syrup – no way it needed any sweetening.  Peanut butter?  As much as I love it, it would not work here.  Sesame seeds…sesame seeds…tahini!  I plopped a big ol’ spoonful into the processor and whirled again.

Same deal.  When I poured the mixture into a pan prior to freezing it, prod and shove as I could, the mixture was not coming together as beautifully as in Amber’s photo.  I referred to the directions and immediately saw what I’d done wrong.  I hadn’t actually read the directions.  I’d just taken it upon myself to toss all of the ingredients into the processor without noticing that, yes, there were a few steps to follow.  Simple, but important, steps.  Deciding to continue anyway, I put the mixture in the freezer and a few hours later pulled it out to see if anything magical had happened behind closed doors.  Naw.  Still crumbly.  But it passed the taste-test with flying colors.  Inspiration hit the next morning: topping for our daily grain cereal!  It’s absolutely delicious.  We ate the first batch up so quickly, I’ve already repeated my mistake.  (Scroll down for other ways to use this “crumble.”)

Please visit Amber at her blog, AlmostVeganChef.com.  She’s a graduate of the Matthew Kenney Academy – a raw/living foods culinary school right here in Oklahoma.  I know – Oklahoma! – where there are BBQ joints on every corner of every city, in all of the gas stations and in every sleepy, single-intersection town in the state.  The Matthew Kenney restaurant in Oklahoma City is fantastic (and I hope to be eating there later this week!) and a real refuge to us plant-based types.  Anyway, Amber’s book, Practically Raw, has really helped me incorporate more raw foods into my diet.  The recipes are delicious, creative and flexible – especially helpful if you’re just starting out with this type of cuisine.

Bowl of Morning Cereal with Crumble

Big Bowl of Overnight ‘Frige Grains with Soy Milk, Bananas, Chia Seeds and Date, Cherry, Walnut & Ginger Crumble.

Date, Cherry, Walnut & Ginger Crumble
Makes enough

3/4 cups walnuts
1 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
2 tbsp. crystallized ginger
zest of 1/2 an orange
1 heaping tbsp. tahini
pinch kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and whirl until the mixture is a bit chunky, but uniform.

Jar of Crumble

Jar of Date, Cherry, Walnut & Ginger Crumble.

Cherry-'berry Pie with Date Crumble

Strawberry and Cherry Pie topped with Date, Cherry, Walnut & Ginger Crumble and Bob’s Natural Granola (no oil).

Slice of Cherry-Strawberry Pie w/ Crumble

Slice of Cherry-Strawberry Pie with Date, Cherry, Walnut & Ginger Crumble.

Tahini Orange Crumble Cookies

Tahini-Orange-Date Crumble Cookies.  Recipe here.

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